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Our favourite travel books - some great reads during the COVID-19 outbreak

So we are told to stay indoors when we can and practice physical distancing when we can during the COVID-19 outbreak. What better opportunity to read up on your favourite books. Here we list a dozen books we fell in love with over the years.

Theatre of Fish: Travels Through Newfoundland and Labrador - John Gimlette

Following in the footsteps of his forefather, Gimlette recounts his journey along the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the story of current inhabitants, descendants of last-hope Irishmen, navy deserters, outlaws and fishermen. It is a strange story of houses that can be dragged along or taken across the sea; of ancient eating habits; of being stuck in ice much of the year; of fishing villages with their own impromptu dramatics, the Mummers.

That summer in Sicily - Marlena de Blasi

De Blasi’ s marvelous storytelling, reminds us that in order to live a rich life, one must accept both life’s sorrow and its beauty. This is beautiful story will take you from Sicily’s remote mountains to chaotic post-war Palermo, from the intricacies of a forbidden love to the havoc wreaked by Sicily’s bewildering culture.

The Lost World of the Kalahari - Laurens Van Der Post

The distinguished explorer and writer retells his visits with the San, outcast survivors from Stone Age Africa. Faced with constant attack the last of the San have retreated to a remote corner of the Kalahari in Botswana. After a gruelling trek, van der Post finds them, thriving in one of the world’s most arid landscapes.

The Sheltering Desert - Henno Martin

Threatened with Internment during World War II, two German geologists, seek refuge in the Namib Desert and live a hermit-like existence for nearly three years. How they survived and what they did, thought and observed are the subject of tjos enigmatic book. In it lies the vastness of the landscape, nature's silence in the joy or suffering of her creatures, and the stillness in which the reader, too, may take refuge from the wrongs of civilization.

Arctic Dreams - Barry Lopez

A must read for travellers to the far north, Arctic Dreams is as much a beautiful work on the natural history as it is a meditation on how the landscape can influence our deepest desires, imaginations and dreams. A classic of modern literature, the prose is as pure as the landscape it is set in.

Shadow of the Silk Road - Colin Thubron

To travel the Silk Road, the legendary trading route through the heart of Asia, is to trace the passage of time, trade and armies but also of ideas, religions, and inventions. Travelling by all possible modes of transport the author covers over seven thousand miles in eight months. From the heart of ancient China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan (freshly liberated from the Taliban) and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey. Along the road he meets a cast of interesting characters and makes some amazing discoveries. This is travel writing at its finest.

Travels in Siberia - Ian Frazier

Like Russia, it took a while for this book to grow on me, but once it did I could not put it down. Travels in Siberia is a unique chronicle of Siberian Russia since the end of the Soviet Union, intertwined with captivating history and trivia.

From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East - William Dalrymple

In 587 a.d., two monks set off on an extraordinary journey that would take them in an arc across the entire Byzantine world, from the shores of the Bosphorus to the sand dunes of Egypt. On the way John Moschos and his pupil Sophronius the Sophist stayed in caves, monasteries, and remote hermitages, collecting the wisdom of the stylites and the desert fathers before their fragile world finally shattered under the great eruption of Islam. More than a thousand years later, using Moschos's writings as his guide, William Dalrymple sets off to retrace their footsteps and composes "an evensong for a dying civilization"

The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club - Marlena de Blasi